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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Newcastle drivers take a hit due to speed camera fines

Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp has slammed the NSW Government, claiming its decision to improve bad driver behaviour by removing warning signs from mobile speed cameras had “failed badly”.

According to figures obtained by Labor, fines issued to Novocastrian motorists have increased 11-fold since the controversial move.

In November 2020, NSW Minister for Transport Andrew Constance announced the decision, while decals identifying the cars were reduced, too.

Through the NSW Upper House, Mr Crakanthorp gained access to data, which showed the exponential rise in fines handed out to local residents.

The information, broken down by the residential postcode of the driver, compares January, February and March 2021, after warning signs were removed to the same months in 2020, when they were still in place.

Total fines by postcode for the 2019-20 financial have also been provided.

Stockton and Fern Bay (2295) saw a large surge, with residents there receiving 94 fines from mobile speed cameras between January and March 2021 compared to five in those months during 2020 – a 1780% increase.

Meanwhile, 163 more people in 2304 (Mayfield, Warabook, Sandgate) were fined in this time, while 137 additional penalties were handed out to people living in 2300 (Newcastle, Cooks Hill, Bar Beach).

Mr Crakanthorp said the figures had been replicated across NSW.

“Whole-of-state data shows that in January 2021 almost $3.4m of revenue was collected, compared to $382,000 in January 2020,” he stated.

“In February 2021, revenue from 28,000 fines totalled $6.1m.

“This is more than the entire 2019-20 financial year, where $5.7m was amassed.”

Mr Crakanthorp said everyone expected to see “some kind of rise” when the warning signs were removed.

“But, it has gone into absolute overdrive,” he explained.

“When we see numbers like this, it’s hard not to believe it isn’t government revenue raising.

“The NRMA was completely opposed to the removal of warning signs because signs educate drivers and make them change their behaviour in real time, rather than when they receive a fine in the mail a few weeks later.

“It’s unpopular with drivers, unpopular with the NRMA and even The Nationals have spoken out against it.

“However, I’m sure this move was very popular with the Treasurer.”

As a result of this large increase, the NSW Parliament has launched an inquiry into the changes.

Public submissions close on 9 July.

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